Well look at that... it's time for the Secret Recipe Club again. Is anyone else finding that 2012 is whipping by at lightspeed so far, or is it just me?
This month, my assigned blog was Rachel Cooks, which is written and photographed by Rachel, a mostly-stay-at-home mom. Rachel just did a massive redesign a couple of weeks ago (in fact, the blog was still called "Not Rachael Ray" when I first received my assignment), and her new digs look fantastic!
Meet This Month's Blog
Like me, Rachel shares recipes for all kinds of dishes, though she add some other food-related content to the mix, including book reviews and features on other bloggers.
There were several recipes that looked like potential SRC candidates, but the one that caught my eye almost immediately was a Lentil Salad with Grapes and Feta, which Rachel adapted from a recipe in Everyday Food magazine.
I don't know what I liked best about it - the fact that Rachel's photos were absolutely stunning, the fact that it sounded like a wonderful combination of flavours, or the fact it looked like a perfect addition to a brown bag lunch.
How I Made the Recipe my Own
As always, I made a few tweaks here and there.
I used walnut oil instead of olive oil, balsamic instead of red wine vinegar, fresh thyme instead of dried, and added a sprinkling of chopped parsley and chopped green onions because I happen to think all lentil salads are vastly improved by the addition of parsley and onion.
Next time, I might also throw in some finely chopped Granny Smith apples for some extra crunchiness, but it was still pretty damned perfect just as it was.
I ended up serving the salad on a bed of baby spinach to make it a little more substantial, with a few paper-thin slices of Niagara capicollo and fresh Montreal-style bagels on the side.
It was just the dinner I needed after stuffing my face with Southern barbecue at lunch - satisfying without being overly heavy, full of bright flavours and crunchy textures.
Plus it was healthy enough to make me feel a little less guilty about my lunchtime splurge without feeling like I was depriving myself,
Oh, and it's even better a day after it's made, once the flavours have had a little time to mellow and get to know each other. Totally a lunch-worthy leftover.
With hot summer days just around the corner (hopefully), I have a feeling this salad might go into my regular rotation. Thanks Rachel!
A combination of sweet grapes with nutty lentils, crunchy walnuts, crisp fresh celery and briny feta makes this salad downright addictive. Serve on its own for a vegetarian main, or pair with a charcuterie platter for a light meat-eaters' lunch.
- 2 ½ cups water
- ¾ cup French puy lentils
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 ½ tsp honey
- 2 tsp fresh thyme
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley
- 3 tbsp walnut oil or olive oil
- 1 ½ cups seedless red grapes, halved
- ¾ cup walnuts, roughly chopped and toasted
- 1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
- 3 green onions, thinly sliced
- ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan, then add lentils. Reduce heat to low and simmer the lentils, covered, for 30 minutes or until tender. Drain and rinse with cold water.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, honey, and thyme. Add walnut or olive oil, and whisk until combined. Add lentils, toasted walnuts, grapes, celery, green onions and feta, and stir until salad is well coated with dressing.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste, then serve with some crusty bread and a glass of wine. Leftovers will keep for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.